Imagine a kiddies’ birthday party. A small tyke climbs on my knee with a piece of paper and starts explaining the jumbled scrawl: “There’s Daddy, there’s Mommy, this is our house, and that is my dog.” Later I compliment the mother, and she answers: “Just a pity, the child is such an introvert.” And this misapplied label is going to affect the child’s entire life.
On my first draft I wrote: “A small blond girl climbs on my knee.” Are those labels we apply without thinking relevant? A black boy would suffer parental labelling as much. So why do we do that?
Recently I was in a discussion with someone who insisted: “Blacks want to drive us out of the country.” And he insisted showing me a video of a black activist who called for just that. Both of them forgetting the black man who, in a small Free State town (note the labels) stopped his bakkie to help an elderly white lady across the street. Or the white housewife who sent savings to her domestic helper to pay for a child’s education.
Labels are limits, and were heroically overcome when a Rabbi led a service in a mosque in the city of Christchurch for the victims of a racist massacre by someone who felt that labelling was enough reason to kill.
Is it not possible to see beyond the label? A woman astronomer, Really? How about a good astronomer, who is also a good mother, amateur artist, passionate about roses. A white farmer, who is a good amateur veterinarian, an expert on horse training, and a management student.
The broader the labelling gets, the less relevant it becomes, and the more we have in common, until we find ourselves labelled as members of the human race.